FAQ

Title: Why is it not possible under the planning regulations to specify in the Creek Neighbourhood Plan that Standard Quay should be used for maritime workshops/boatyard use when it was used viably for this purpose between 1993 and 2011 by Standard Quay Faversham Ltd? What comprises the Heritage Asset at Standard Quay? Why have new mooring rings been recommended?
Date Posted: 24 10 2013
Response:
The Faversham Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group acknowledges that the Standard Quay buildings were leased between 1993 and 2011 for boat repairing. The moorings were used by a wide variety of mainly traditional vessels including for winter moorings, there were dry docks to repair vessels and the black sheds and white building were used for workshops, storage and classrooms. Latterly, the Cambria was rebuilt there using Heritage Lottery funding and the skills built up on site. From 2003 onwards, there were discussions with the owner regarding the lease and in particularly latterly regarding outside storage of materials. The lease ended in 2011.

With regard to planning legislation, the uses that contribute to a boatyard facility include carpenters, sailmakers, welders, blockmakers, shipwights and other similar trades. These uses all fall within Class B1 (some with minor elements of B2) of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) There are at present two welders on the site, both of whom it is understood work on boats as part of their portfolio of work by taking materials onto the vessels they are working on. Use Class B1 also includes any other craft workshops such as upholsterers, potters, wood turners and other craft skills. It also includes light industrial uses of types that would not result in noise, disturbance or fumes that would make it unsuitable for location in a residential area. There is permitted change of use from Class B2 to B1 for units up to 500 square metres. Use Class B1 also includes offices, but in the case of the black sheds any windows or other external alterations for such uses may not be appropriate to their character and the alterations would require planning permission and listed building consent.

A Neighbourhood Plan which attempted to restrict uses within a Use Class would not be considered to be acceptable by an Independent Examiner. This is because Neighbourhood Plans are meant to be in accordance with national planning legislation. Any established Class B1 use could normally change to another use within the Class and the limitation would be an unfair restriction on the owner of the site. Further, Class B1 premises up to 500 square metres can change to Class B8(Storage) without planning permission under the May 2013 changes to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order. Class B1 offices can change to residential, but there are none there at present.

Two of the buildings at Standard Quay are the subject of current planning proposals. Building 1 has a museum in part of it and the scheme which is at appeal seeks to retain this and add a restaurant at ground floor level and a function room at first floor level. The appeal is due to be heard on 18th and 19th December and decisions usually take several months. At Building 3, there is a retrospective application for a champagne bar with residential staff accommodation above which is now at the public consultation stage (as of 24th October).

With regard to the 2004 Faversham Conservation Area Character Appraisal, the discussion of the buildings on Standard Quay is very limited in its extent and does not offer a detailed description of the listed buildings individually or in their setting. Other such statements tend to include much more detail about what makes groups of buildings and their setting distinctive and significant as heritage assets. The buildings are an important group, their setting is also important and the CACA does not do the site justice. The subsequent description of the character of the site is based on the uses of the buildings and outside storage on the land around them as it was in the early 2000s and the mix of vessels that frequented the moorings around that time. As explained above, these were Class B1 uses and could be changed at any time to any other use within Class B1 provided there were no external changes without planning permission or listed building consent. The mooring of particular vessels (named examples of vessels or types) also cannot be controlled under planning legislation but large vessels can be encouraged by appropriate moorings and fees.

The three alternatives proposed by the lease holder in 2011 for use of parts of Standard Quay as a boatyard all relied on the relevant parts of the quay being leased to people working with boats. The lease to such an organisation ceased in 2011. The inside uses for this purpose fall within Class B1 with limited B2. At present several of the buildings are already in Class B1 uses and are let to existing businesses, a few are vacant and one is let to a beauty shop. Scheme 1 would displace a significant number of existing businesses in all of the quayside buildings. Scheme 2 would occupy only building 1 but this is subject to an outstanding planning appeal. Scheme 3 does not use any of the buildings. All three schemes use a piece of land which is being used as a car park ancillary to the current uses. Whilst it is reasonable under planning legislation to stop a landowner from continuing an unauthorised use such as the car wash and expect them to stop the leaseholder using the land for it where a planning appeal has been lost, it is not reasonable within a Neighbourhood Plan to try to specify who an owner should lease areas of land to or to stop using parts of the site themselves.

With regard to provision of appropriate mooring rings, these were agreed in principle as part of the Faversham Creek Streetscape Strategy which is an adopted document. It is therefore important that a suitable design should be worked out to specify for moorings at Standard Quay and elsewhere around the creek. They would help to make Standard Quay and other moorings more suitable for a wider range of craft. At Standard Quay, there are still several barges and other historic craft that regularly use the wharf and would benefit from this as could other visiting craft.
Title: Given that Arthur Percival has demonstrated the importance of the creek to Faversham's history and its value as a USP for the town, which is a Cinque Port, why does the Neighbourhood Plan not protect the community's interest in the creek?
Date Posted: 19 08 2013
Response:
It is true that the community is vitally interested in the future of the Creek but we have to recognise that the Creek is privately owned and it is managed by Medway Ports. The Neighbourhood Plan cannot dictate how the Creek is managed but there needs to be public and open debate about the nature of the community interest in the Creek and then a careful discussion with Medway ports as to how that community interest can be protected. The Creek’s importance to the history of the town is set out in the Undesignated Heritage paper which would form part of the Neighbourhood Plan, and a statement about the role of the Creek would probably form part of any Introduction to the Plan. Designated and undesignated heritage assets and views around the creek area, as well as the character of the relevant parts of the conservation area, are included in this document, and the impact on these need to be taken into account when any new development is proposed. With regard to ownership, the Creek is a publicly navigable waterway and sites around it are owned by a number of private landowners including local businesses, Swale and the Town Council. The whole is managed by the Harbour Authority. The community can use the Creek for moorings by paying the owners of the private wharves, for navigation and to view from footpaths. Better access to the Creek will be part of the Neighbourhood Plan, and the content of the Creek Streetscape Strategy will be taken into account in what should be achieved. The Plan has not been written yet, so it is incorrect to say what it does or does not include.
Title: Should the plan not be drawn up by a completely independent consultant with no affiliation to Swale and accountable only to FTC? We need someone who acts in the interest of the Town under the supervision of the Town Council?
Date Posted: 07 08 2013
Response:
Swale BC is the Local Planning Authority and any adopted Neighbourhood Plan would become part of the Swale Local Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan, together with the Local Plan and the NPPF, has to be taken into account when assessing any planning applications submitted for sites around the creek. Therefore, it is helpful that the Plan is drafted by someone who has a good connection with the planning officers at Swale and a good knowledge of planning generally. In this case, the consultant knows the area quite well now having been involved here since 2010 and also has experience of working on other neighbourhood plans elsewhere. He is working for a committee which reports to Faversham Town Council which is responsible for preparing the Plan.
Title: How are the neighbourhood plan consultation responses being validated? Supplementary questions are: What is the constituency for consultation on the Neighbourhood Plan exhibition? The referendum willbe limited to registered electors within the Faversham Town Council wards, but does the same apply to the consultation, or is that open to just anybody? If the latter, will the views of local people be given more weight than those of outsiders? And since the feedback forms can be completed anonymously, how are they to be validated? The questionnaire says that a name is optional but a postcode is required. But when you get to the end of the online version, it says that even the postcode is optional. The site-specific forms have no provision for name or postcode at all, and will not necessarily be linked to a questionnaire. Even if everyone provides a postcode, will any checks be made to ensure that the postcodes are valid (eg, that the number of responses for a particular postcode is compatible with the number of residents – or even that it is a genuine postcode)? What measures have been taken to detect and exclude the possibility of fraud through multiple responses? This may seem alarmist, but even in a frivolous newspaper poll recently, on the subject of the restaurant application at Standard Quay, there were some very suspicious voting patterns. The feedback from this exhibition will carry rather more weight, and given that the plan is, let us say, controversial, and that for some individuals the stakes are very high, the possibility of fraud cannot be discounted.
Date Posted: 07 08 2013
Response:
The questionnaires are being analysed by AMT. Around 150 were submitted on line and another 130 as paper copies. AMT will be analysing the responses statistically and for their content, and preparing a report which will be reported to the next Steering Group on 15th August. We expect most to have included a postcode. AMT has systems in place to check these for duplication. It is relatively easy to detect patterns of representations, as has been pointed out, and the Town Council and the Steering Group will bear this in mind when considering representations. If anyone has evidence of any rigging of representations the Council would be pleased to hear about them.

On the site response forms, most of these were handwritten, or, if not, were typed in responses to the questions so it was fairly easy to check if there were any multiple responses from any person or, in a few cases, organisations. There was no restriction on who could visit the exhibition, and it was publicised all over ME13 by the leaflets.

Faversham is the urban centre of a large rural hinterland and it is, therefore, appropriate to consider the views of those living in the wider area when important proposals are being made for the development of the Town. The views and suggestions made by this wider group may be constructive and useful to the Town Council in formulating their proposals.

When the final plan is drafted it will be for the elected members of the Town Council, advised by the Steering Group they have appointed, to decide on the content of the plan and for the registered electors of Faversham to either approve or reject the plan.
Title: Why will the public be excluded from any discussion of specific sites or landholders' comments? Surely, discussion of specific sites is part of the consultation process which must involve the public. And in neighbourhood planning processes elsewhere, landholders are considered as just one among many stakeholder groups - why, in Faversham, are they accorded special privileges? Their comments should be visible and open for public discussion just like everyone else's.
Date Posted: 07 08 2013
Response:
The Town Council meeting minutes stated the public would also be asked to withdraw during any discussion relating to specific sites, comments of landholders, and matters involving information of a confidential nature. In general, discussion of proposals should be as open as possible but occasionally there will be a need for a degree of privacy. This might include discussion of personal circumstances (such as a medical condition), commercially sensitive information (such as future plans for the expansion or contraction of a business) or information which if disclosed could lead to significant harm (such as revealing the whereabouts of the nesting site of a protected species). In all cases the landowner will be required to explain why any discussion should be without the public being present.
Title: Why cannot minutes be published quickly after meetings so that everyone knows what is going on?
Date Posted: 01 08 2013
Response:
These are published as soon as possible. It is important to recognise that the Town Council officers are part time, and all members of the Steering Group (with the exception of the independent planning consultant) are volunteers. There is also a senior planner from Swale Borough Council in attendance. It takes some time to write the minutes and have them cleared by the Steering Group.
Title: How many dwellings were represented in the illustrations at the neighbourhood plan exhibition, what assumptions have been made about income from developer contributions, and what it would pay for?
Date Posted: 01 08 2013
Response:
The drawings did not represent any specific proposals for the sites around the creek. They were illustrative of what the creek could look like in the future and were simply buildings that could be used for industry, offices, shops, training centres, restaurant, museum or housing.

The purpose of the illustrations was to try and get some reaction to the suggested architectural development of the creek in terms of form, scale, mass, materials, and location.

At Standard House, the new building to the north of the house could have been residential or a workshop. At the coach depot, the ground floor appeared to represent commercial uses, with smaller windows like those in flats on three floors above, but again this was only a hypothetical building, not a real proposal. At Ordnance Wharf, all 4 designs were hypothetical, not real proposals and as the buildings were only shown in elevation, not in plan, it would not be possible to assign any number of residential units within them. The questions asked gave the opportunity to say whether or not there should be any residential use here and elsewhere. At Swan Quay, three buildings were shown, again hypothetical with commercial ground floor uses. The landowner does want residential above, but this drawing did not represent their firm proposal. On the other sites where residential was mentioned, no drawings were shown at all.

Swale Council has not yet agreed its charges for the Community Infrastructure Levy to be raised per new dwelling, nor has there been any discussion on any other way of raising money for creekside improvements via developer contributions or by any other methods.
Title: How does the Council propose to open up the neighbourhood planning process?
Date Posted: 01 08 2013
Response:
Vanguard Neighbourhood Plans were initiated by local authorities, not by local communities, and, as a result, appear top-down. We made an assumption that consultation prior to the Neighbourhood Plan process indicated community engagement was already part of that process. It is now increasingly clear that this does not feel the case from the community’s perspective. This issue was discussed at the Town Council meeting on 29th July. A number of organisations such as FATA, the Faversham Society and the Faversham Creek Trust, business groups etc. will be asked to send representatives with the aim of expanding the Steering Group. This would bring in issues such as tourism, the possible impact on trade/business in the town and an alternative view on what should be developed around the Creek (as expressed in the comments to date). It is expected that they will be in place by the September meeting of the Steering Group. We hope that, with an enlarged and more representative steering group, we can find better ways of engaging the public as we enter the plan-making phase.
Title: How does the council propose to respond to the recent government guidelines, and Eric Pickles’ comments on transparency in his speech to the Local Government Association?
Date Posted: 01 08 2013
Response:
The minutes of the Steering Group and the Town Council are published on the website and are available at the library. The Steering Group and the Town Council meetings are held in public, and registered electors are able to question Members of the Town Council and members of the Steering Group on agenda items. Relevant papers are also placed on the website. Anyone can view the minutes at the Town Council offices (by appointment).

The recent Government Regulations (Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) Regulations 2012) only cover Districts, Counties and Unitaries in England. They do not extend to parish and town councils. There are considerable cost implications to filming meetings and the Town Council would need to consider this issue very carefully within the overall context of the budget, which has already been allocated for this financial year.
Title: In Malmesbury, the accounts of the Neighbourhood Plan are published in full on an open website. Why aren’t ours?
Date Posted: 01 08 2013
Response:
Budget updates are provided, where possible, at Steering Group meetings. It is our intention that this information goes into the public domain with relevant papers. All receipts and payments made by Faversham Town Council are published on a monthly basis as part of the papers for Town Council meetings.
Title: Why was there no opportunity to comment on the Vision and Objectives at the June 2013 exhibition?
Date Posted: 29 07 2013
Response:
This exhibition did not offer a further opportunity to comment on the Visions and Objectives and these were displayed for information only. This was because the Vision and Objectives were drawn up in two public workshops held in autumn 2008 which were facilitated by Urban Initiatives. For this reason, the objectives did not include reference to more recent events such as the use of the Purifier building by Faversham Creek Trust. One additional objective, no. 12 was added by the Creek Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group when it reviewed the objectives in September 2011. The Vision and Objectives were re-consulted on as part of the Site Options exhibition in May 2012. The sequence in which the objectives are listed is not indicative of their relative importance.
Title: How can it be ensured that maritime uses are provided around the creek?
Date Posted: 28 07 2013
Response:
Within any Plan for the Creek, it may be considered desirable to specify what types of commercial uses are wanted on the identified sites. These could include boat repair workshops, workshops for marine trades such as blockmakers, sailmakers and shipwrights and what types of shops or cafes are wanted e.g. not national chains, and what the ownership of businesses should be e.g. ethical owners. However, the Use Classes set out in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, especially as amended by the most recent Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order, does not allow differentiation of this kind in allocation of uses in a Plan. Class B1 (a) includes offices and now larger units up to 500 square metres can change to Class B8 (storage) or B2 (general industry) without planning permission. Class B1 (a) can also change to residential without planning permission or to a state funded school. Class B1(c) includes workshops and light industrial, but these can now change to B2 or B8. Workshops making pottery, sofas, wood turners or general welders working on marine and non-marine items are in the same use category as any of the marine trades referred to above.

Retail shops within Class A1 include any retail-style use such as ticket agencies, sandwich bars, post offices and hairdressers as well as any retail use such as craft shops, food shops or specialist shops. There is no differentiation between ownership, whether by a national chain or any individual local trader. The same applies to cafes and restaurants; no differentiation for the type of restaurant or the ownership.

Shops, buildings in use for financial and professional services, restaurants, pubs and takeaways and properties in Class B1business use can also change to any of the uses among shops, financial and professional services and the restaurant use class without planning permission unless they are listed buildings. This change can be in both directions e.g. A1 to A2 or A2 to A1. It would not usually be considered reasonable in planning terms to add conditions or require legal agreements on any planning permission that a property had to stay in a business use for a set period of time.
Title: Why has there not been more consultation on the Creek Neighbourhood Plan?
Date Posted: 28 07 2013
Response:
There has been extensive public consultation since Faversham Town Council started working on the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan. This is set out in the Timeline board that formed part of the Illustrations Exhibition and is available on the Creek Neighbourhood Plan website. There was consultation on the Creek Streetscape Strategy in March 2012, the Site Options Exhibition in May 2012 which was attended by 900 people and the consensus Building Workshop in November 2012. In June 2013 an Illustrations Exhibition was held with opportunities for feedback on specific sites and a creek-wide questionnaire.

Later there will be a six-week period of consultation on the Pre-Submission Draft of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan hosted by Faversham Town Council and a further six-week period of consultation on the Submission Draft hosted by Swale Borough Council.
Title: Why did the June 2013 exhibition not address any financial aspects of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan?
Date Posted: 28 07 2013
Response:
The financial case for any development options around the creek were not addressed as part of the exhibition. This is because the illustrations of possible developments shown were not firm options for what should happen. The drawings showed illustrations of what could be developed based on the discussions with the landowners and the responses to earlier consultation in particular the Consensus Building Workshop held in November 2012. The Pre-submission draft of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan has not been written yet but is expected to be prepared this autumn. After a six-week period of consultation, this will be amended taking the consultation into account to form the Submission Draft. The financial appraisal/viability appraisal will be prepared at this stage by consultants advising Swale Council.
Title: What is the status of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan at present (June 2013) and what was the role of the material in the June 2013 exhibition?
Date Posted: 28 07 2013
Response:
The material that was shown in the Illustrations Exhibition was ‘indicative’ with regards to what could happen on the individual sites and for linkages around the Creek on footpaths. It was based on discussions with the landowners and feedback from other stakeholders and groups at the Consensus Building Workshop in November 2012.

The drawings did not show detailed plans and maps for specific sites such as Swan Quay and Standard Quay with recommendations of what uses should go in each building, the mix of housing types, parking etc. The Creek Neighbourhood Plan has not been written yet. However, this is not a level of detail that even the Neighbourhood Plan would go to. On each site, the Plan would set out a desired mix of uses, a shopping list of desirable features such as walkways and moorings and indications of the height of buildings that would be acceptable and materials to be used. Any planning applications submitted after the Creek Neighbourhood Plan has been adopted as part of the Swale Local Plan would be assessed as to how well they comply with the site criteria and policies, taking account of the context of the requirements of the Streetscape Strategy and the Undesignated Heritage guidance.

The content of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan with regard to specific sites and overall policies would be based on the background papers set out in the list at the Illustrations Exhibition, national planning policies and local planning policies. In addition, the views of the landowners and results of the feedback received in response to the June 2013 exhibition and during the Pre-Submission stage and Submission stage of public consultation will be taken into account to try to produce a Plan that is viable and deliverable and be acceptable to an Independent Examiner and, ultimately, the electorate in a referendum.